Changing the conversation about health

Plant-based diet could lessen impact of Covid, says new study

Those following a plant-based diet could be better placed to fight off the symptoms of Covid, a new study has found.

The major research, published in the BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health journal, found that following a non-meat diet reduced the severity of symptoms by up to 73 per cent.

The survey, published in the BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health journal, found that following a plant-based diet significantly reduced the severity of Covid symptoms (Photo: Pixabay/JillWellington)

The international study looked at the outcomes of health workers on the healthcare frontline in six countries: UK, USA, Italy, Spain, Germany and France.

Nearly 23,000 people who had had ‘substantial exposure’ to Covid took part, offering information over eight weeks between 17 July and 25 September 2020 about their diets, where they lived and how they were affected by Covid.

Nearly 3,000 people following a plant-based diet, or a diet lower in red meat and poultry, fared better when infected with the Covid virus than meat-eating counterparts, the research said.

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The report reads: “There were 568 COVID-19 cases and 2316 controls. Among the 568 cases, 138 individuals had moderate-to-severe COVID-19 severity whereas 430 individuals had very mild to mild COVID-19 severity.

“After adjusting for important confounders, participants who reported following ‘plant-based diets’ and ‘plant-based diets or pescatarian diets’ had 73% and 59% lower odds of moderate-to-severe COVID-19 severity, respectively, compared with participants who did not follow these diets.

“Compared with participants who reported following ‘plant-based diets’, those who reported following ‘low carbohydrate, high protein diets’ had greater odds of moderate-to-severe COVID-19.

“No association was observed between self-reported diets and COVID-19 infection or duration.”

BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health 2021